|Cities At Risk - Making Cities Safer ... Before Disaster Strikes (IDNDR-DIRDN, 1996)|
|Part One: Why Focus on Disasters in Cities?|
The few examples below indicate the many different ways in which major disasters affect urban areas, small and large, in every region of the world.1 Taken collectively, these examples are representative of the range of social, health, economic. environmental. cultural and historical effects caused by recent disasters in urban areas. By no means is this a comprehensive list of major disasters in urban areas.
Spectacular disasters affecting megacities are often featured in the news. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. New evidence shows that the cumulative damage from thousands of lesser disasters may be even greater than the spectacular major disasters featured in the news.2
Megacities attract attention because of their scale - large concentrations of people, industry and government. But all fast-growing settlements in hazardous areas are vulnerable no matter what their size.
Selected Recent Major Disasters in Urban
(Ordered roughly by geographic region, left to right.)
(1) Los Angeles (pop. 12.4 million), USA
The 1994 Northridge earthquake was the strongest to shake the region in two decades, killing only 57 but causing over $30 billion of economic losses.
(2) Mexico City (pop. 15.7 million), Mexico
A 1985 earthquake killed over 10,000 people, left tens of thousands homeless, destroyed nearly 34,000 buildings and affected 65,000 others.
(3) Armero (pop. 25,000), Colombia
A 1985 volcanic eruption and mudflow rapidly buried the town and killed 21,800 most of its inhabitants.
(4) Rio de Janeiro (pop. 9.9 million), Brazil
1988 floods affected nearly 20% of Rio inhabitants. Nearby cities of Petropolis and Acre also were stricken. Economic losses were just under $1 billion. Greatest damage was to squatter settlements on unstable slopes.
(5) Naples (pop. 1,200,000), Potenza (100,000), Salerno (200,000), Avellino (60,000), Italy
The 1980 earthquake in Southern Italy killed more than 3,000 people in these and nearby cities. Dozens of historic urban centres were hit; about 75% of buildings around the epicentre were destroyed. The Pugliese aqueduct (largest freshwater distribution network in Europe) was blocked.
(6) Erzincan (pop. 300,000), Turkey
The 1992 Erzincan earthquake affected 230,000, killed 547, and damaged or destroyed over 18,000 buildings.
(7) Spitak (pop. 50,000), Gumri (220,000) and Vanadzor (180,000), Armenia
The 1988 Spitak earthquake killed over 25,000. New constructions (rapidly and shoddily built) were the first to collapse. Lack of water, sewage, electricity or gas caused 120,000 people to evacuate.
(8) Cairo (pop. 9.7 million), Egypt
5,000 buildings were destroyed and nearly 12,000 were damaged, including historical monuments and many schools. The earthquake was perceived as "unexpected."
(9) Cotonou (pop. 650,000), Benin
In the 1988 and 1991 floods, economic life stopped for a week. Floods are recurrent - 56% of houses are flooded regularly.
(10) Nacala City (pop. 1.4 million), Mozambique
The 1994 cyclone Nadia destroyed 75% of homes and cut power and transport lines.
(11) Manjil (25,000),Zanjan (25,400) and Rudbar (95,000), Iran
The 1990 Manijl earthquake destroyed three towns. It killed 40,000 people and left 500,000 homeless. (Rural areas affected included 1,600 villages.)
(12) Uttarkashi (pop. 240,000), India
The 1991 earthquake triggered severe landslides which killed 2,000 people. About 90% of the houses in Uttarkashi collapsed.
(13) Chittagong (pop. 2.4 million) and Cox's Bazaar (40,000), Bangladesh
A 1991 cyclone killed 140,000 in these cities and nearby islands.
(14) Tangshan (pop. 1.8 million), China
The 1976 Tangshan earthquake killed 148,000 people and injured 81,000 in Tangshan City. 95% of houses and 80% of industrial buildings collapsed or were seriously damaged.
(15) Kobe (pop. 1.5 million), Japan
The 1995 Hanshin-Awaji earthquake killed 6300 people (75% crushed/suffocated, 10% burned) and caused over $100 billion in losses.
(16) Ormoc City (pop. 45,000), Philippines
A 1991 mudflow following Tropical Storm Thelma killed 5,000 people and left nearly 46,000 homeless. Damage was $27.7 million.
(17) Rabaul (pop. 30,000), Papua New Guinea
In 7994, the Rabaul volcano erupted. Inhabitants evacuated the area rapidly, but 40% of buildings, transport and communications were damaged by ash and lava.
* Dotted line represents approximately the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir agreed upon by India and Pakistan. The final status of Jammu and Kashmir has not yet been agreed upon by the parties.
The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.